Larchmont: Save Our Village !
An overflow crowd of about 80 Larchmont Village merchants, professionals, Trustees, other government representatives and interested residents
filled Tequila Sunrise restaurant on Larchmont Avenue last night to attend a Brainstorming Session sponsored by the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce.
The Session was conducted by Jeffrey Shaffer, a Larchmont resident and partner of Flywheel Accelerated Solutions, a marketing firm specializing in developing solutions through collaboration.
Opening remarks were made by Jeffrey Rosenberg of Citibank, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Josh Mandell, possibly Larchmont’s next Mayor. Mandell’s message to the group was that fixing the "broken downtown" would be a priority as he takes office, and that he will listen to every suggestion offered up by Village merchants and the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Shaffer’s promise was that, by the end of the 2 1/2 hour meeting, the group would identify the most pressing issues for the Chamber to address, as well as opportunities and ways to resolve them.
Using giant charts and voting by placing big, colorful dots on the list of issues they compiled, the attendees agreed on the key issues facing local merchants.
According to Shaffer, "the best part was while everyone came
in knowing that the key issue was empty stores, the participants were able to identify the root causes for the empty stores," These were identified on the charts by participants, as:
- People don’t shop locally;
- Onerous regulations make people hesitant to do business and open stores here;
- Lack of adequate parking;
- Landlords don’t have incentives to fill their vacant storefronts;
- Lack of a variety of retail stores which would complement and thereby help one another.
Finally, working groups were formed in each of the problem areas. They will report back to the Chamber of Commerce at its next meeting, and solutions (such as a comprehensive Larchmont Village website to promote local shopping) will be presented to the Village and new mayor.
I am so glad the event was viewed as a success by those who attended. Our biggest threat now is [b]complacency[/b], as it has been in the past. It is important that Village businesses and professionals [i]join the Chamber of Commerce [/i](download application form at http://www.larchmontchamber.com) so that we can begin to fund some of the suggested initiatives (an improved website, for example), and also that they [i]continue the difficult work [/i]they began last night. As the meeting facilitator, Jeff Shaffer, so aptly stated, we must go beyond complaining to the Chamber, as we, in truth, ARE the Chamber.
I would be interested to know what kinds of stores the village really wants. Right now we have banks, delis, coffee shops, wine stores, eyeglass stores, nail and hair salons and restaurants. It seems like many of the other retailers (clothes, trinkets, antiques to name a few) have gone out of business. Other than a Whole Foods, what do people feel is really needed and would really shop locally for? Loop/ Chamber of commerce, maybe we need a survey. There’s no point in trying to open a business if people don’t really want/need the store.
I shop locally as much as possible. What I don’t get is why the stores I frequented most–like Active Sports/The Larchmont Store, have closed (I guess they overreached at an unfortunately terrible time). Things I would think wouldn’t get that much business, like a luggage store and so many jewelers, seem to hang on. I think most parents would love a place in town to get sports equipment, birthday presents/toys, and the like. Plaza Too, alas, was too pricey for my budget. Plaza Bootery just isn’t the same under the new, indifferent ownership. In the meantime, I will continue to patronize Wendy Gee, Voracious Reader, Stanz, Pink on Palmer, Carol Charney and Write On, the stores I love here, even though they’re sometimes pricey. I would love to see a great newsstand, and some more fun restaurants–great wood-burning pizza, anyone? Fresh, healthy takeout dinners?
Put in a LOCAL BIKE SHOP!
[quote][i]You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.[/i] – Author unknown.[/quote]
So Fairway is coming to Pelham, along with other businesses. Is it possible that Pelham knows something that Larchmont/Mamaroneck doesn’t or is Pelham just more open to change? Do empty storefronts tell us a story, give us an opportunity?
A storefront, an opportunity, a thinking mind – terrible things to waste.
Why not try a ping pong parlor or other hang out space for families or teens?